NEW BRAUNFELS -- Former Ambassador Bob Krueger knows the sacrifice of representing the United States in a land of conflict. He lived it, coming under gunfire as an ambassador to Burundi.
“The car behind, the follow car, had 11 bullet holes in it. There was only one in mine,” said Krueger from his office in New Braunfels, Texas.
Two would die when Krueger’s motorcade was ambushed in the mountains of Cibitoke province of Burundi--a small African nation that was plagued with rebel attacks and ethnic killings in the 1990s.
Krueger became an outspoken defender of the Burundi people. Touring the nation, he exposed to the world the atrocities being carried out by the army on its citizenry and found himself at the focal point of the violent, ethnic cleansing that was happening.
The attack on his motorcade is believed to be the last time a U.S. ambassador’s life had been threatened…until now.
“This is a time not for hot tempers, but for cool heads. You know there’s a risk when you take this job. But, it is a privilege,” said Krueger, referring to the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Libya this week.
Krueger says Stevens’ style was reminiscent of his own: both men dedicated to shedding light on the plight of the average citizen, amid a young government’s struggle to power.
In his published memoirs, Krueger recounts being pulled from Burundi by the U.S. government amid concerns for his safety. He said he had hoped he would remain in the country.
To remain, he said, sends a more powerful message than warships or troops when American lives are lost. He cautions the U.S. on its response to the latest killings.
“Is it an outrage? Of course it is. But we would be narrow-minded and we would not serve our own purposes, as well as the purposes of democracy if we simply sought to punish the entire country of Libya,” said Krueger.